Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My favorite holiday's almost here!

Hi all, Amanda here! I’m getting quite excited because we are fast approaching on my favorite holiday. That’s right, it’s that time of year to get out every flag you own, bake a delicious apple pie, fire up the BBQ, and spend the evening watching an awesome fireworks display.

While I am very proud to be an American, my patriotism is not the reason the 4th of July is my favorite day of the year. I love it because it’s such a simple holiday that doesn’t require gifts, cards, and all of the stress and anxiety that so many of our holidays are accompanied with. It’s just a day to hang out with your friends and family, and celebrate our fine country by doing just about whatever pleases you.

The key ingredients that make my 4th of July experience amazing are as follows: hot dogs, apple pie, one huge watermelon, a pool, beach, or any body of water(optional),  friends and/or family, and fireworks. That’s it! Pretty simple considering this is the day I look forward to all year!

What else makes this holiday so amazing? Super simple decorations; most of which nature really helps us out with. Look around you, or out your nearest window. I’m sure just by glancing around you might spot some beautiful things that are already red, white, or blue. Berries, flowers, candles, and maybe a gorgeous crystal blue sky. Ok, now throw all those things together, and you’re set!

Here’s a recipe for a deliciously American dessert that’s just as pretty to look at as it is scrumptious to eat, and it’s easy as can be!

Red, White and Blue Strawberry Shortcake
         1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
         1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
         1 pint blueberries, rinsed and drained
         2 pints fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced

If you’re like me and think that nothing says America like an apple pie, here’s a great recipe from It got a 5 star rating, so give it a try! I know I will!

 Grandma Ople's Apple Pie
         1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
         1/2 cup unsalted butter
         3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
         1/2 cup white sugar
         1/2 cup packed brown sugar
         1/4 cup water
         8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced
For the baking instructions head to this link:
This year, I’ll be spending the 4th at a friends parents house. So, of course, I’m wondering what to bring as a hostess gift. I could always just bring the pie, but after perusing around online I found a great idea for all-American hostess gift that’s perfect for an outdoor BBQ that I’d like to share.
One thing that will always put a damper on your holiday BBQ is the presence of pesky mosquitoes. I recently attended a BBQ that was missing one key element. Citronella candles! Leave the bug spray at home, and make your host some homemade citronella candles, just in case they don’t have any, or they can use them at the next outdoor fete.
I found this wonderful DIY project guide at Check out the link!

Here’s what you need to know:

1. old wax candles, or any type of safely melt-able wax (i used leftover soy wax from old candle projects)
2. crayons (for coloring the wax)
3. container for melting wax (a sauce pan with another heat safe container inside will be fine, or you can purchase wax containers at a craft store)
4. wicks (available at craft stores)
5. citronella oil (available at health food stores, online, or some specialty hardware stores)
6. stir stick or spoon (for wax)
7. thermometer
8. letter stickers (optional, these are found in craft stores and hardware stores – these are for signs and mailbox labels, etc)
9. old pickle or jam jars or tin cans (look for tins with cute labels, there are a lot once you start looking!)
10. hot glue
1. clean out your jars and tin cans. dry completely. if you are making messages on your jars, carefully stick the letter stickers to the outside of your jars in an even line.
2. put your pot on the stove with some water and your other container inside it.
3. attach your wick bases to the bottom center of your jars and tins with a dab of hot glue.
4. when the water is 140 degrees, put your wax in. stir every once in a while as it starts to melt. add your crayons as well.
5. when all the wax is melted to an even liquid (it will look like the consistency of olive oil), add a few drops of citronella oil and stir (about one drop for a small candle, two to three for larger ones).
6. remove the container and pour into your containers, leaving about a half inch of wick exposed.
7. let cool. if you want to give your jar candles as a gift, cover the lid of the jar with some pretty fabric and screw back on to the jar. wrap the tin can candles with a little kitchen twine and finish with a bow.

One last thing folks, let’s all have a great day but let’s also be safe out there!
I just read a horrifying fact about backyard fires. Apparently every year barbecue grills on residential properties cause more than 1,500 structural fires, and 4,200 outdoor fires. Many of these fires occurred when a propane grill was used for the first time after winter storage.

Here’s a link to BBQ safety tips, and a safety checklist from the NYC Fire Department:

May you all have a wonderful 4th of July! Let’s all have a great safe day, and relish in the awesomeness of our beautiful country.

If you have any tips or recipes for me, please share!

Happy 4th of July!

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